All right gang, it’s time to look at the Men in Black’s latest outing. It’s definitely a franchise that pretty much everyone is familiar with although it hasn’t been the most consistent of titles. The first film was really good and the second was still solid. The third one was a pretty big dip in quality though and this one is more in line with that. It’s a decent movie, but one that you probably won’t bother to see twice.
The film starts out with a tease with Agent H and T heading off to fight the Hive. The scene ends real quick though so you never get to see the fight, thereby making it a bit of a waste of an intro. The scene wasn’t bad, but the sudden ending just invalidates the whole thing. We then cut to a flashback taking place before the intro which was also a flashback. We’re introduced to Molly who managed to escape having her memory wiped since everyone thought she was asleep. She then makes it her life’s mission to find the MIB. After tracking them down and being recruited she is given her first assignment. Agent M is to work with H and what should have been a routine escort mission quickly becomes a planetary crisis. Is M ready for this?
First off, the script is pretty solid. I do like the fast paced banter with the leads here. This style of humor’s been working pretty well for Chris’ various cinema characters lately and Agent H is no exception. He’s always got a comeback for everything and the rest of the characters follow suit. One good example of this is Pawny who takes every opportunity to take shots at H. While not all of the insults will land there are quite a few solid ones in there. One involves referencing how H was choked which was the ultimate comeback. There’s no counter to that. There is a whole lot of comedy in the film, but it rarely gets annoying. At most you’ve got some laugh scenes that last too long or too many jokes in a small time frame, but with the writing it didn’t really feel like an issue.
I think where the writing breaks down is how MIB just feels more about spectacle than realism here. I’m sure there are issues with them you could nitpick in the earlier films too, but here they’re just very apparent. One is how the heroes constantly show off the alien tech everywhere. There’s one scene where H and M quickly blast a few humans with the memory wiper, but ignore the hundreds of other people in the area. I guess there’s no time to blast them all, but then it’s almost pointless to blast the few. Molly’s whole origin story is pretty telling on how easy it is to avoid the MIB. I feel like more people should know about them at this point. As for a total nitpick, the train scene is a little odd. This is a secret MIB train that only the agents know about so why does it keep changing from an MTA train to a sci-fi one? Once it’s already underground with aliens boarding I don’t see the purpose in keeping it transformed except for the shock value scene of spooking M.
The film is also very predictable. To an extent most films are, but some just feel more telegraphed than others. This one is like Captain Marvel in that respect (Maybe it’s just a sci-fi thing) but you’ll be able to predict all of the twists before they occur. I won’t even hint at the main twist, but the instant one character brings up the possibility you just know that it’s a certainty. Then there’s one character who appears for an instant near the beginning so you know it’ll tie in later on. They say that the destination doesn’t matter and it’s all about the journey so if we take that as true then this wouldn’t really hurt the film. Honestly I don’t hold predictability against a movie since I do think it’s all in the execution. It wouldn’t hurt to mask what’s going to happen a little better though.
Now for the characters. I think Chris Hemsworth is quickly becoming like Tom Cruise or Dwayne Johnson in that he’s quickly becoming an actor who is playing himself rather than a character. There’s a debate to be had on whether that’s a good thing or not (Hint, it’s usually a good thing) but regardless it makes for H being a pretty entertaining character. He definitely has his share of iffy moments and he goes a little too far in being the irresponsible lead. You can see what the film is going for with the character, but I think he plays the trope a little too far. Now, the film does open the door to an explanation for this, but the film only halfheartedly entertains the idea and never goes through with it. Unless we actually get a sequel this will just be something for fan theories and headcanons so I can’t give him a pass. He’s an entertaining character, but definitely not a heroic one.
M is pretty solid. She’s definitely his polar opposite as she has lived her whole life just to join the MIB and as a result has no real life. This is almost a bit tragic to be honest, but I always like when a character has a one track mind like this. She’s a quick learner and while she isn’t as quick to think on her feet, she does have a lot of general knowledge on aliens and such. M has done her research so she adds some brains to the operation. She fills in her role pretty well.
Agent C is also a solid character. He’s thrown into one of those roles where he’s made out to be the annoying figure in the film, but that’s all if you look at it through the main characters’ lens. If you think about it objectively he is just doing his job and doing it well I might add. Every action he takes makes sense and it’s also perfectly understandable why he is a little jealous about how H gets to break all of the rules. I liked him quite a bit. Then you’ve got Agent T who is the classic boss type character. He’s pretty stern and down to business. A solid character all around, but naturally I liked him best during the flashback opening where he was a field agent.
As mentioned earlier Pawny is mainly here to crack a lot of jokes. He does come in handy on many occasions though and I think a good comic relief character needs to know when to step up. Pawny did just that and as a result he is a very complete character. He easily could have been a very annoying one so I think we got to give him some credit for avoiding that fate. Then you have one of the villains named Riza who is around for a quick fight scene. I do like the idea of a 3 armed fighting style and thought the fight was pretty well handled. Her actual plot wasn’t though. I won’t say much here, but keep in mind that her island is known as a lair of certain death and is the toughest place in the cosmos. So…why doesn’t she have more guards or security so people can’t literally strut around the place? Everything’s connected to one lever??? You’re gonna be suspending a lot of disbelief here.
There are also the two villains from the trailer who can turn into a space like vortex. They have cool designs and I like the moveset, but the film doesn’t give them a whole lot to do. In a way they just feel like they’re filling in space which is never what you want to happen. I think so much more could have been done with them, they don’t even really get named by the end of their appearances.
The special effects are definitely on point. There are a lot of scenes where the movie gets to show off the energy effects and such. There aren’t too many fights, but I did like the first action scene which took place in the city. The city’s always the best backdrop and as I mentioned the villains’ powers have good visuals attached to them. There were even some Terminator influences here with how they could manipulate metal. Then the soundtrack is superb as always. The main Men in Black theme is just really good and tends to fit in with everything. It makes any scene feel a lot more intriguing automatically.
Overall, Men in Black International was pretty reasonable. It’s a good film, I just wouldn’t call it very good. I think it’s a nice example of a film that didn’t necessarily do anything wrong (No animal violence, no excessive violence, the script was reasonable, etc) but it doesn’t really stick out. There are films that tackle the same subjects and plots that just handle them a lot better. This movie is the kind of title that makes for a fun experience at the theaters or watching at home the first go around, but there’s not a whole lot to say about it afterwards. You’ll enjoy it, but then move on to the next thing. There’s nothing great about it or super good in general. Still, I would recommend checking it out. Honestly, just being an enjoyable film isn’t such a bad thing. It wouldn’t be the first title I’d check out, but if you just want to watch a nice movie with some action scenes then this will be up your alley.